Tag Archives: potash

XCMG debuts the world’s first vertical milling mining machine for potash sector

XCMG Machinery has announced the successful trial of the world’s first vertical milling mining machine, the XVM160, which, the company says, sets a new standard in mining production with its unparalleled capacity and innovative features.

The XVM160 is a world-first in vertical milling mining equipment, boasting the largest single mining area to date at 6 m x 2.5 m and a maximum mining depth of 100 m. This makes it the most powerful mining production equipment currently available, according to XCMG.

“The XVM160 is a game-changer in the potash mining industry, replacing the old horizontal mining methods with a new vertical approach,” the company says. “This ingenious technique uses the equipment’s own weight to crush ore and ensure operational stability. With a milling rotor torque of 4 x 120 kNm and a milling speed of 0-40 rpm, the XVM160 not only boosts the efficiency of stone crushing but also cuts down on energy consumption.”

By adopting a continuous self-sliding transportation method for ore, the XVM160 has successfully replaced the age-old process of horizontal mining and relay transportation, the company explains. This significant shift has led to a substantial reduction in mining costs, with XCMG claiming that the increased mining efficiency offered by the machine can potentially reduce mining costs by around 30%.

It added: “The trial of the XVM160 vertical milling mining machine is a testament to XCMG Machinery’s unwavering commitment to innovation and their supremacy in the worldwide construction machinery market. The company persistently pushes the envelope in mining production, providing solutions that boost productivity, minimize expenses and foster eco-friendly practices.”

Fluor to partner with BHP on Jansen Stage 2

Fluor Corporation’s Mining & Metals business has been selected by BHP Canada to develop Stage 2 of its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Fluor says it expects to recognise its undisclosed reimbursable contract value in the December quarter of 2023.

Earlier this week, BHP agreed to invest another $4.9 billion in Jansen, an investment that will bring on stage two of the project, expected to double production capacity to some 8.5 Mt/y. It followed BHP’s approval of $5.7 billion for stage one of the Jansen potash project in August 2021 and a pre-Jansen Stage 1 investment of $4.5 billion.

“Fluor is excited to be selected to partner with BHP to deliver this sustainable program that is critical for food security,” Tony Morgan, President of Fluor’s Mining & Metals business, said. “This award is a testament to our track record of successfully delivering complex mega-projects, coupled with our expertise in fertiliser production and execution capability in western Canada.”

When completed, the Jansen site will be one of the largest and most sustainable potash mines in the world, according to Fluor, adding that project execution is scheduled to begin later this month.

BHP looks to double production capacity at Jansen potash project

BHP has agreed to invest another $4.9 billion in the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, an investment that will bring on stage two of the project, expected to double production capacity to some 8.5 Mt/y.

This follows BHP’s approval of $5.7 billion for stage one of the Jansen potash project in August 2021 and a pre-Jansen Stage 1 investment of $4.5 billion.

BHP Chief Executive Officer, Mike Henry, said: “The stage two investment advances BHP’s strategy to increase its exposure to commodities positively leveraged to the global megatrends of population growth, urbanisation, rising living standards and decarbonisation. Potash, used in fertilisers, will be essential for food security and more sustainable farming.

“Today’s additional investment will transform Jansen into one of the world’s largest potash mines, doubling production capacity to approximately 8.5 Mt per annum.

“We are advancing our sustainability and economic development priorities for Jansen and we are pleased with the progress of our ongoing work with the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, as well as local and Indigenous communities on shared solutions.”

Jansen Stage 1 is 32% complete and progressing in line with its schedule. First production from Jansen Stage 1 is expected to be delivered in late 2026. Construction of Jansen Stage 2 is anticipated to take approximately six years, and is expected to deliver first production in the 2029 financial year, followed by a ramp up period of three years.

Jansen Stage 2 is expected to deliver approximately 4.36 Mt/y of production at a capital intensity of approximately $1,050/t, lower than Jansen Stage 1, due to the leveraging of existing and planned infrastructure2. In October 2022, BHP approved an initial funding commitment of $188 million to procure long-lead equipment and commence process plant foundation works. The additional $4.9 billion investment for Jansen Stage 2 will be used for the development of additional mining districts, completion of the second shaft hoist infrastructure to handle higher mining volumes, expansion of processing facilities and the addition of more rail cars.

Westshore Terminals, in Delta, British Columbia, remains BHP’s main port facility to ship potash from Jansen to customers. The Jansen Stage 2 investment includes funding to increase storage facilities at the port. BHP will not be initiating a formal capacity extension for the Westshore port terminal at this time and will evaluate closer to Jansen Stage 2 reaching first production.

Jansen has been designed with a focus on social value and sustainability and is expected to have approximately 50% less operational (Scopes 1 and 2) greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of product and use up to 60% less fresh water when compared with the average potash mine in Saskatchewan, the company says. Indigenous employee representation at Jansen has increased to approximately 9% with a target to increase Indigenous employee representation at Jansen to 20%. Jansen aspires to maintain a gender balanced workforce.

Jansen Stage 2 was evaluated utilising BHP’s Capital Allocation Framework and at consensus prices has an internal rate of return of 15-18% and an expected payback period of approximately six years from first production.

Transitioning to Jansen Stage 2 during the construction period of Jansen Stage 1 is expected to bring a number of operational benefits. These include leveraging the experience of the integrated Jansen project team, continued use of existing contractors, reduced overheads and savings on mobilisation and demobilisation costs. Potential synergies of $300 million have been embedded into Jansen Stage 2’s economics.

Longer term, Jansen has the potential for two additional expansions to reach an ultimate production capacity of 16-17 Mt/y (subject to studies and approvals).

BHP awards three Jansen contracts to local First Nation community JVs

As construction progresses at BHP’s Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, the company has awarded three new contracts in partnership with local First Nation communities.

Covering camp management, site services and raw ore/handling foundation, the contracts include representation from the six First Nations surrounding the Jansen site, with whom BHP has Opportunity Agreements in place.

The Opportunity Agreements were first developed in 2012. These were the first of their kind and aim to create long term mutual benefit for BHP and First Nation communities, according to BHP.

“The agreements enhance our mutual capacity and are a way that industry can forge new relationships with Indigenous Peoples to create local employment, business opportunities and build the skills and capabilities of local residents,” the miner says.

Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer of BHP, added: “Across our operations, it is our ambition to create long-term relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on trust and mutual benefit – and these contract awards demonstrate this ambition in action. By integrating local suppliers and Indigenous businesses into our supply chain we are working hand-in-hand with First Nation partners to build long-term positive outcomes for communities and for BHP.”

The three-and-a-half year contracts are valued at over C$260 million ($188 million), and will support more than 400 local jobs with over 50% planned to be Indigenous. Since sanctioning Jansen Stage 1 in August 2021, a total of C$470 million in contracts have been awarded to Indigenous businesses in the region, according to BHP.

To support the work at Jansen, BHP has been a catalyst for First Nation Opportunity Agreement holders coming together with industry partners, it says.

The camp management contract has been awarded to Wicehtowak Frontec Services, a joint-venture between ATCO Frontec Ltd and George Gordon Developments Ltd. The joint venture was originally created in 2011 as a 50:50 partnership to support the construction of the Jansen Discovery Lodge, and today has evolved to a majority Indigenous-owned company.

The site services and raw ore/handling foundation contracts have been awarded to 2Nations Bird – a new partnership between Bird Construction Inc, Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation’s Willow Cree Developments General Partner Inc and Fishing Lake First Nation’s Development Corporation, FLFN Ventures. 2Nations Bird will work closely with KDM Constructors, who represent Kawakatoose, Day Star and Muskowekwan Nations, as well as George Gordon Developments Ltd, the economic development arm of the George Gordon First Nation.

Chief Ananas of Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation said: “Indigenous and industry partnerships, such as these, create economic and employment opportunities for our Nation and its members. It also allows us to develop capacity, learn from one another and grow in tandem. More importantly, these types of relationships are critical to advance economic reconciliation which allows us to develop long-term, meaningful and sustainable outcomes.”

As BHP moves towards operations at Jansen, anticipated to start in late-2026, it is working with First Nation Opportunity Agreement partners, and other Indigenous groups to identify jobs and skillsets it will require long term at Jansen, BHP said.

BHP has partnered with local organisations in Saskatchewan to provide pre-apprenticeship programs to help build awareness of opportunities in the trades and prepare individuals for the skills necessary to enter the mining industry. Through these programs BHP hopes to attract more people who may not have considered a career in mining, particularly women and Indigenous people in the region.

Caroline Cox, Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer at BHP, said: “We deeply appreciate our mutually beneficial agreements with First Nation partner communities and look forward to continuing to work together. Our partnerships are based on respect and through our work together we seek to better understand Indigenous voices, values, knowledge and perspectives and to incorporate them into the way we work. We strongly believe this will make BHP a more successful company.”

Hatch, ERCOSPLAN, K-UTEC on board for South Harz’s Ohmgebirge potash PFS

South Harz Potash Limited has appointed its specialist team to deliver the prefeasibility study for its 100%-owned Ohmgebirge potash development project in Thuringia, Germany.

Hatch is, South Harz Potash says, a recognised leader in the development and implementation of potash projects globally and has worked on projects in Europe, North America and beyond.

ERCOSPLAN and K-UTEC, both part of this team, have a long tradition in the development of potash projects in many parts of the world, and both are particularly experienced in the Thuringian “hartsalz” typical of the region, according to the company. Micon, meanwhile, will continue to provide geological support and will be responsible for the mineral resource estimate.

The PFS is set to further refine the engineering, design and cost estimates (to +/-20%) for the Ohmgebirge development, following the scoping study completed in August 2022. Key workstreams have already commenced with overall PFS completion scheduled for January 2024.

South Harz Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence Berthelet, said: “We are very pleased to be working with global industry leaders, Hatch, and premier German mine and process engineering teams, ERCOSPLAN and K-UTEC, to advance our flagship Ohmgebirge Development. Coupled with our geology partner, Micon, the external team will deploy its experience alongside our owner’s team to advance the project through the PFS workstreams and will provide essential support to the Environmental Impact Assessment and permitting processes announced earlier this month.”

The team will be under the in-house leadership of South Harz, Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence Berthelet, with key PFS specialist discipline engineering responsibilities.

Hatch will act as the lead consultant and study manager (external), with Owner’s Engineer responsibility. It will also carry out the infrastructure engineering and design, including all energy trade-off studies, plus capital and operating cost estimates.

ERCOSPLAN is the specialist engineering consultant responsible for mine planning, geological risk assessment, geotechnical modelling, shaft hoisting and underground backfill technology engineering.

K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies has responsibility for process flowsheet design, backfill technical and constituent engineering.

Mining consultant, Micon International, will provide continuity in geological modelling, Competent Person and mineral resource update provision.

The South Harz project hosts a globally large-scale potash JORC (2012) mineral resource estimate of 5,000 Mt at 10.6% K2O of inferred resources and 258 Mt at 13.5% K2O of indicated resources across four wholly-owned project areas within central Europe. This comprises three perpetual potash mining licences, Ohmgebirge, Ebeleben and Mühlhausen-Nohra, and two potash exploration licences, Küllstedt and Gräfentonna, covering a total area of approximately 659 sq.km.

The August 2022 scoping study outlined a 4.5 Mt/y run-of-mine project with a K2O head grade of 13.5% over a 21-year life.

Anglo American continues SBR-led shaft sinking progress at Woodsmith

While Anglo American continues with its detailed technical review of the Woodsmith polyhalite project in the UK, shaft sinking activities at the asset continue to progress, the company confirmed in an investor update today.

The project was acquired by Anglo American in 2020 with the purchase of Sirius Minerals. Since then, Anglo American has been working on refining the development pathway and overall production potential of the asset.

In an investor presentation today, the company outlined physical progress on the site, explaining that shaft sinking for the circa-1.6-km deep service shaft had progressed to the circa-265-m level. It also said the mineral transport shaft, which it is working on with Redpath Group as sinking contractor, had reached the circa-230-m level of a planned 321-m depth.

Regarding horizontal development, it added that the 37-km mineral transport tunnel – which will connect to the mineral transport shaft – had reached the 20-km development mark with tunnel boring machine technology.

The Woodsmith project overview includes the sinking of production and service shafts with 6.75-m diameters – having depths of 1,594 m and 1,565 m, respectively – and the 37-km-long concrete-lined tunnel containing a conveyor belt, which transports the polyhalite ore from Woodsmith mine, near Whitby, to the Mineral Handling Facility, on Teesside, for processing and shipping.

Both the service shaft and production shaft at Woodsmith are being sunk using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader technology, which has previously featured on the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts down to circa-1,000-m-depth and the Slavkaliy-owned Nezhinsky potash project, where it ended up breaking shaft sinking records under the guidance of contractor Redpath Deilmann on a project to sink two 8-m diameter shafts (one to 750-m depth and one to 697-m depth).

The first cut for the service shaft was made in July 2021, with Anglo American and Redpath Deilmann – which is now leading the sinking project as shaft sinking contractor – restarting sinking activities on this shaft earlier this year.

In the same investor presentation issued today, Anglo American said it planned to start sinking in the production shaft in the March quarter of 2023.

While the ongoing review takes place, Anglo American confirmed it had approved $800 million of capital expenditure for Woodsmith next year, focused on shaft sinking and other critical infrastructure as part of its phased approach to the asset.

Stephen Pearce, Finance Director of Anglo American, said on Woodsmith: “As we have said for some time, we are improving the project’s configuration to ensure we realise the full commercial value over the expected multi-decade asset life. This will extend the development schedule and the capital budget, compared to what was anticipated prior to our ownership, and so potentially impact our carrying value of Woodsmith for accounting purposes at the year end.

“Looking ahead, we are even more positive today about the prospects for Woodsmith and its potential to become a high margin, major contributor to our diversified product portfolio given the outstanding nature of the resource and the premium pricing upside we expect to realise for Poly4 – the highly effective, low carbon fertiliser we will produce.”

Ampcontrol to provide iMAC conveyor control systems to BHP at Jansen potash project

Ampcontrol says it has been named the supplier for conveyor control systems for Stage 1 at the BHP Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The Ampcontrol iMAC monitoring and control system has achieved Canadian Standards Approval and will be used for conveyor controls on site, the company said, adding that this marks the first time an Ampcontrol product has been used in Canada.

Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO, Rod Henderson, said: “We have a solid history of working with BHP in Australia for over 50 years. We are looking forward to furthering our relationship by participating in the Jansen potash project and are eager to share our world-class electrical solutions with the broader Canadian market.”

Designed to maximise productivity while maintaining the highest level of safety, the Ampcontrol iMAC system is customised to the unique requirements of sites and provides features such as high integrity emergency stop, broadcast messaging, and belt hazard identification functionality, with remote interface capabilities.

Jamie Scheffer, Integrated Project Team Manager Underground BHP, said: “Ampcontrol was selected from a number of different vendors to supply conveyor control signal line equipment for the underground conveyor systems, consisting of upwards of 35 km of conveyor belts.

“The Ampcontrol iMAC was the successful solution because it provided a remote interface which gave us the ability to link in remotely and help fault find should issues occur. This is particularly important for this site due to our remote location.”

BHP has announced an investment of $5.7 billion in the Jansen Stage 1 project, which is 140 km east of Saskatoon.

Work will start on the conveyor system in late 2022 with the current project expected to be completed by 2025.

Normet to supply battery-electric utility vehicle fleet to BHPs Jansen mine

Normet Canada says it has been awarded a contract from BHP to deliver a large fleet of multi-use battery-electric vehicles (BEV) to the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The delivery period of the fleet is expected to commence in the March quarter 2023 and extends to 2024.

The Normet fleet order follows on from Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions being awarded a contract by BHP to deliver 10 underground battery-electric loaders along with 1 electric tethered loader for use at Jansen.

BHP aims to develop the underground mining equipment and automation solutions with a focus on sustainability, with emissions reduction, improved productivity and advanced health and welfare of employees being key inputs to the mining company’s decision to adopt BEV technology.

With the mine’s pursuit of electrification of mobile equipment and technology that mitigates natural gas emission, Jansen is expected to emit about half the average CO2 per tonne of product compared with the average Saskatchewan potash mine, according to BHP.

The Jansen project has the potential to be the largest potash-producing mine in the world and is expected to operate for up to 100 years, providing a rich source of potassium for soil fertilisation purposes and hence supporting food production, BHP says. Start of the production is targeted for 2026.

Woodsmith Shaft Boring Roadheaders about to re-start cutting process

One of the most-watched shaft sinking projects in the sector right now is located in the UK, with the Woodsmith project in north Yorkshire having been on the radar for a number of reasons.

First off, it is a project that has changed hands recently.

Originally guided by Sirius Minerals, the 10 Mt/y project was acquired by Anglo American in 2020, a transaction that came with a fresh look at the whole project execution phase.

The change in ownership and re-assessment of plans drawn up by Sirius – a much smaller company guided by different investor pressures and operating procedures – led to Anglo American relieving DMC Mining, the lead shaft sinking contractor, of its duties.

Another reason for watching the project is the planned use of Shaft Boring Roadheader (SBR) technology from Herrenknecht.

After debuting at the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts down to circa-1,000-m-depth with the help of DMC as the contractor, SBR 2.0 – the second generation of the technology – was put to the test in Belarus at the Slavkaliy-owned Nezhinsky potash project. It ended up breaking shaft sinking records under the guidance of contractor Redpath Deilmann on a project to sink two 8-m diameter shafts (one to 750-m depth and one to 697-m depth).

Herrenknecht, with its experience in mechanised tunnelling, developed the SBR for the mechanised sinking of blind shafts in soft-to-medium rock. Based on the proven technology of the Herrenknecht Vertical Shaft Sinking Machine, the SBR offers improved safety performance compared with conventional shaft sinking methods while also achieving higher advance rates, according to the company.

The SBR is a 60-m tall, suspended shaft sinking machine, with 12 work decks and two service platforms. A telescopic, boom-mounted cutting head is used to precisely excavate rock via a partial-face cutting method. The cutting head works in a cycle, starting each cut from shaft centre to shaft wall, repeating until a layer of material is removed. Excavation proceeds in 1-m increments, followed by SBR lowering sequences.

The SBR was chosen for Woodsmith by Sirius over the conventional drill and blasting method due to its advantages in improving safety and schedule. This methodology, Sirius said, would allow the company to satisfy several operational objectives, moving away from the use of explosives and providing a safer, more predictable work method. Instead of a linear process, the SBR allows work to be completed concurrently as the shaft is sunk, as well as minimising damage to exposed host rock, and further improving safety while minimising downtime. Work decks above the cutting head allow workers to install shaft lining and tubbing as excavation continues, while a pneumatic mucking system removes waste rock.

The third generation of technology – which builds on the first two deployments with, among other things, the addition of two retractable robotic probes to test and grout the ground ahead for safer excavation and an additional control cabin on surface for more remote operation – is due to sink production and service shafts with 6.75-m diameters to depths of 1,594 m and 1,565 m, respectively, at Woodsmith based on the Sirius plan.

These SBRs are being supported by four triple sheaved winches from SMS SIEMAG and conveyors from Herrenknecht-owned H + E Logistik GmbH, among other support equipment.

Work on the service shaft commenced in 2021 with former Anglo American Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, confirming in July of that year that the “first cut” with the SBR had taken place in the service shaft.

This progress was made while the company was still completing a detailed technical review on Woodsmith to ensure the technical and commercial integrity of the full scope of its design. This review has a particular focus on the sinking of the two main shafts, the development of the underground mining area, and the changes required to accommodate both increased production capacity and the more efficient and scalable mining method of using only continuous miners, Anglo American said.

Since the first cut was made in July 2021, however, Anglo American and Redpath Deilmann – which is now leading the sinking project as shaft sinking contractor – have been reviewing the existing plans for sinking with the SBRs, carrying out minor hardware changes on the machines and ensuring all staff have the appropriate training to facilitate the completion of the shaft sinking process. The Redpath Group is also involved in the drill-and-blast-based sinking for the materials transport system (MTS) shaft.

Various shaft sinking rates have been mooted in the past at Woodsmith, and Anglo American is currently working to develop the optimal solution for the facility based on technical standards.

The sinking at Woodsmith represents a different challenge to the two previous SBR projects conducted to this point.

For starters, there is no ground freezing expected to take place at Woodsmith – unlike what happened in Canada and Belarus. This process, while time consuming and only used to freeze unstable water-bearing strata around the shaft, can create more rock uniformity to aide consistent cutting rates.

There is also the MTS level to consider at Woodsmith, with plans to carry out lateral development work around the 360-m-level to join up the production shaft with this level where polyhalite ore will be transported along a 37-km tunnel to Wilton near the port. This means vertical cutting and loading may be halted while the MTS level connection is established.

All these factors, along with the performance of previous SBR work, will be incorporated into the engineering work Anglo American is carrying out at Woodsmith, but, in terms of the SBR, signs are that work on the service shaft could recommence shortly, with plans to start sinking in the production shaft by the end of the year.

Emmerson selects Barr Engineering to build Khemisset mineral processing facility

Emmerson plc has awarded the first basic engineering contract for its Khemisset potash project in Morocco, with Barr Engineering set to build out the project’s mineral processing facility.

The company is moving into the pre-construction phase of development at Khemisset, which has a large JORC resource estimate of 537 Mt at 9.24% K2O. The recently feasibility study, completed by Golder Associates, outlined a project able to produce some 810,000 t/y of K60 muriate of potash during steady-state operations over the initial 19-year mine life.

The contract with Barr Engineering, an engineering and consulting firm headquartered in the US, was signed on time and within budget. It has been prioritised to address the project’s critical path focused on achieving first production in early 2024.

Emmerson expects to select the further contractor(s) for the balance of basic engineering before the end of 2021, signing contract(s) before the end of January 2022.

Graham Clarke, CEO, said: “The financing deal we secured with GSM and GQC included an upfront cash injection so that we could advance the next stage of the project’s development, the basic engineering. This is part of the upfront capital expenditure, rather than an additional cost, and moves us firmly into the pre-construction phase.

“Having already signed the contract with Barr Engineering for the mineral processing facility, we have also received bids for the balance of the basic engineering aspects of the project, comprising highways connection and site access; portal and declines; mine site infrastructure; tailings storage facility; electrical power; and water. We expect to be able sign contracts for these before the end of January 2022 so that this work can be dual tracked with the due diligence phase of the lending banks syndicate.”